As talks of banning TikTok continue to make headlines in the United States, the platform’s popularity in Israel doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.
TikTok began in 2016 as a social networking service with a focus on dance videos but has since grown into a global powerhouse of culture and commerce for its 1.5 billion monthly users, and its influence is not lost on them. In 2022, #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt garnered 22.5 billion views worldwide.
Head of TikTok’s global gaming division Assaf Sagy explained at the 2022 Year on TikTok Israel event that the app’s reach stems from the way it allows for a direct relationship between content creators and their audiences. These relationships also enable brands to develop new and creative ways to tell stories, which, in turn, changes the way consumers choose to shop.
A recent survey conducted by US-based MarketCast found that 67% of TikTok users report discovering a new brand or product through the app, and TikTik videos were the third most credited driver of consumer purchases, just after recommendations from friends and family and seeing someone they know use the product. 60% of those surveyed reported that they consider TikTok creators to be more influential than celebrities.
Not only has the subject matter of TikTok’s content evolved, but age demographics also seem to be shifting as well. Sagy continued to explain that the platform is not just for young people and that “Adults are able to view content that enriches their life. TikTok is not social media. You’re not watching your friends’ content, you’re watching the content that’s relevant to you.”
In Israel, TikTok’s influence extends to more than just commerce. This year, singer Noa Kirel released her single ‘Bell’ exclusively on TikTok and received 106 million views, securing her the position of the app’s top Israeli artist.
Kirel is not alone in her success; performer Neomi Aharoni-Gal, known by her stage name Nunu, rose to fame almost overnight when her song ‘Boys’ went viral on TikTok.
The platform also established a partnership with Galgalatz and participated in the annual Tel Aviv Pride Parade with a float and original song performed by Samantha Fox and Dana International. “Tok Tok,” a first-of-its-kind series produced in collaboration with Paramount Israel debuted both on TikTok and network television earlier this year.
“TikTok is shaping Israeli culture in all areas of our lives here,” shared director of operations for TikTok Israel Aviad Rosenbaum.
One of the most popular subcommunities in Israel is #BookTok, where creators share videos reviewing and discussing books they’ve read, often inspiring their viewers to then purchase the books as well. The Hebrew version of the hashtag has 250 million views.
This growth has driven Israeli marketers to change the way they approach advertising. TikTok is the number one digital platform chosen by Israeli marketing teams for 2023, with 62% intending to increase their ad budgets for the app.
With such a large number of users comes the risk that a certain amount of offensive or harmful content will surface, though TikTok’s moderation team of over 40,000 reviewers does a respectable job of making sure that as little as possible of such content slips through the cracks. The team removes, on average, 110 million videos per quarter - just under 1% of all videos uploaded. In Q3, 89% of policy-violating videos were removed before they had received any views.
In January 2022, TikTok announced a partnership with UNESCO and the World Jewish Congress to combat misinformation about the Holocaust. Users searching for terms related to the Holocaust are now redirected to pages featuring information verified as factual.
Global Head of Product Policy Julie de Bailliencourt shared that TikTok maintains a strict policy against hate and that guidelines are in place in an effort to “strengthen the community dimension and provide a safe platform for a variety of users from all populations."